M.T. Hickman, lead faculty of Richland College’s Hospitality, Exhibitions and Event Management program, was honored with the Colleen Rickenbacher Leadership Award at the 16th annual Certified Meeting Professional and Certificate in Meeting Management Recognition Event, hosted by the Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter of Meeting Professionals International April 26.
Hickman was one of three finalists for the award, and her selection was based on her impact on enhancing the relationships with meeting professionals and students in Richland College’s HEEM program. Her efforts have not only raised the visibility of the program, but she has a history of actively engaging students at industry events and encouraging them to join professional organizations and pursue industry certifications.
“M.T. is passionate about the industry and works hard to provide hands-on learning opportunities for Richland College HEEM students,” said Dwight Riley, dean of the Richland College School of Business. “She is a leader who inspires her students and colleagues to pursue their dreams.”
The Colleen Rickenbacher Leadership Award recognizes a member of the MPI Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter who makes a difference in the meetings industry through leadership contributions, commitment to education and advocacy in the cause of professional certifications.
Hickman, a CMP and Certified Protocol Etiquette and Civility Professional, is also a co-founder and current co-chair of the IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt Faculty Engagement Programs that are part of the annual IMEX America and Frankfurt exhibitions for incentive travel, meetings and events. The Faculty Engagement Programs bring together faculty from around the world to discuss issues in meetings and events related to preparing students for careers in the industry.
In addition, for 16 years Hickman has brought together industry leaders and students to plan and produce the HEEM Scholarship Luncheon and Silent Auction, an annual event that has now raised more than $50,000 in scholarship funds for HEEM students at Richland College.
The Richland College HEEM program offers courses in the hospitality industry that prepare students for jobs as a marketing coordinator, show director, sales administrator, meeting manager, special events coordinator and event planners. Students can complete the Meetings and Events Management certificate, Hospitality and Tourism Management certificate or the Hospitality, Exhibitions and Event Management Associate of Applied Sciences degree.
MPI is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide. Founded in 1972, MPI provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals and more than 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries.
In order to better serve the needs of students, Richland College officially changed the name of its Travel, Exposition and Meeting Management (TEMM) Associate of Applied Science degree program to Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management (HEEM), effective Jan. 1, 2018.
This change occurred after a survey was distributed to 77 students asking about intentions and goals of the program. With an 84 percent return rate, the survey determined 46 percent of students were most interested in meetings and events, 65 percent of students were interested in pursuing the Associate of Applied Science degree rather than just getting a certificate and 48 percent of students were extremely likely to pursue a career in the industry.
“The name was changed to HEEM so that potential and current students could more clearly recognize the hospitality and event management emphasis of the program,” said M.T. Hickman, HEEM lead faculty and program coordinator. “The word ‘travel’ is often associated with travel agents, who represent a very small segment of the industry. ‘Hospitality’ is a more commonly used term that includes lodging, events, tourism and recreation. This change more accurately describes the program and gives students and employers a better understanding of what we offer.”
Although the name has officially been changed for all new students, it will not affect current students in the TEMM program. In addition, the Hospitality and Tourism Management and Meetings and Event Management certificate programs will remain the same. While the travel and events courses currently offered at Richland College will not change, students will begin to see more hospitality courses added in the future.
“This program provides the education to prepare students for a career in the hospitality, events and tourism industry,” said Hickman. “The certificates build upon each other and lead to the Associate of Applied Science degree. These awards prepare students for entry-level positions in the industry. According to the U.S. Occupation Outlook, the hospitality and lodging industry is expected to grow by 6 percent, and the meetings and events industry is expected to grow by 10 percent by 2026. This program exposes students to the many segments of the industry, which will help them gain an understanding of where they would like to work and build relationships while they are in school.”
The HEEM curriculum is developed in collaboration with a 30-member advisory board whose members represent all segments of the industry. These industry professionals also teach in the HEEM program and mentor students.
Hickman started her career with the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau and is still active in industry organizations, including the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association; she serves on the Hotel Association Advisory Board, the IAEE Faculty Advisory Board and the Stephen F. Austin Advisory Board; and she is co-chair of IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt Faculty Engagement Program. Hickman has directed the Richland College HEEM program for 20 years, has developed and taught several courses in the program and is the student HEEM Club faculty advisor.
The Richland College HEEM program offers courses in the hospitality industry that prepares students for jobs as a marketing coordinator, show director, sales administrator, meeting manager, special events coordinator and event planners among other careers. Students can complete the Meetings and Events Management certificate, Hospitality and Tourism Management certificate or the Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management Associate of Applied Sciences degree. The average college graduate makes $20,000 more each year.*
For more information about the HEEM program, click here.